VA Linux moving on infrastructure front

ITworld.com |  Hardware

With its emphasis on hardware-software integration, VA Linux stands out from a pack
of software-oriented Linux start-ups. But, as Linux continues to grow, VA Linux will
come into the gun sights of some other players. These potential rivals are very well
established and can call upon the resources in their very full coffers to counter the
hardware-software upstart.

VA Linux Founder, President, CEO and Director Larry Augustin addressed this issue in
a conversation prior to a forum focused on ecommerce. Augustin led a panel, which
focused on Linux's readiness for ecommerce, at the Internet Commerce Expo in Boston.

Augustin was asked how VA Linux will fare when IBM, Compaq, and others tout
themselves as born-again Linux adherents. "It's easy for anybody to say they're
whatever company they want to be, whether it's truly a 'Linux' company or not," said
Augustin. "For our part, we're the only company offering the full level of Linux
services to customers with one point of contact."

He continued, "When we build systems, we build them for Linux, and for the markets
where Linux is strong."

While Augustin started his business with the purpose of building inexpensive
workstations, he said that today servers account for the main share of VA Linux
business.

"We're selling into the developer [ranks]," he said. "In the ASP [application
service provider] and ISP [Internet service provider] markets, those people look at
using Linux first. Among the dot-coms, they are looking to Linux first, but that may
not be the case for traditional business customers yet."

An important hurdle for Linux in the enterprise is the database. While the operating
system has quickly found use as a Web server platform, the database is an important
part of today's ecommerce system mix that may have for the most part eluded the Linux
touch.

"Our very large databases still primarily run on Solaris," said VA Linux user Al
Holmes, CTO of New York City's Promotions.com. Commercial tools and databases are still
largely a Solaris game, said Holmes, whose firm specializes in integrated Web-based
marketing promotions.

The benefit of systems like those from VA Linux at the moment lies largely in the
realm of return on investment, said Holmes. "I can get three or four Linux boxes for
the equivalent of some [Sun] SPARC boxes," said Holmes. He said that he was running
over 100 VA Linux servers.

Said Augustin of VA Linux, "Oracle [databases] on Linux are now proving to be a very
stable basis on which to build Internet commerce sites."

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